A&P Will Sell If the Price is Right

Discussion
Sep 08, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Christian Haub, executive chairman of the board, for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., told attendees at the Goldman Sachs retailing conference that the grocer was looking to turnaround A&P on its own, (wait for it) but…


Mr. Haub said A&P had taken a number of steps to make itself more competitive by making improvements in store operations, building on its Fresh store concept and better managing it Food Basic discount store business.


As to the ‘but’ (our word, not Mr. Haub’s), A&P’s leader said, “The world is not necessarily always ideal. I think we have to look at what opportunities are there.”


Mr. Haub, Reuters reports, has said he expects further grocery industry consolidation to take place in the Northeast. The question it now seems is how long before A&P becomes part of that consolidation?


Discussion Questions: Is A&P taking the necessary steps to turn itself around? Do you see further grocery industry consolidation in the Northeast
and Mid-Atlantic regions in the near term? Discuss what you see as some of the more probable merger and/or acquisition scenarios?

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9 Comments on "A&P Will Sell If the Price is Right"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

Isn’t the real issue how long can A&P remain financially viable, i.e., could it survive without underwriting from Europe or with a less forgiving board? It’s entirely possible to conceive of a scenario in which A&P goes away because it should, not just because of consolidation. Are they doing what they need to survive? I live in Detroit where the answer is clearly a resounding “No.”

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 5 months ago
A&P has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no ability to turn themselves around. A&P is down to just a few hundred stores and has been selling off or closing stores at a very fast clip for the past two decades. Most of their new ideas have been recycled failed ideas from their past. They have put their Farmer Jack and New Orleans divisions up for sale in the past few years without any reasonable offers. Pathmark has gotten the attention of some serious investors so I would think if any company is going to make a turnaround move it would be them. As far as Ahold goes, they are quickly becoming another A&P and they continue to close stores, sell off divisions, and investors are calling for more. Sure they bought a handful of Clemens stores but that deal was probably inked before the major outcry of investors. Ahold will probably be split up. Yes, there are lot of underperforming stores on the East coast. Instead of an acquisition, maybe… Read more »
Herb Sorensen
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

I have no special insight on the business prospects for A&P, but philosophically I think it is always a mistake to look for “someone” to come in and save you. What if they never show up? There is an old saying, if you are looking for help, check the end of your own sleeve!

And no situation is ever hopeless. There are just leaders without hope.

Ron Margulis
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

Both A&P and Pathmark will not be operating in their current form by the end of the decade. Pathmark could be acquired by a joint SUPERVALU-Yucaipa partnership and then joined (even re-bannered) with Shaw’s. The one challenge with this is the competing retailers SUPERVALU serves in Pathmark’s market, particularly in metro Philadelphia. This is less of a problem now that Clemens Markets won’t be a SUPERVALU customer, but there are still a dozen others that compete with Pathmark.

A&P could be folded into C&S, which currently supplies most of its groceries and non-food items. Or, the company could try to (and, unfortunately, fail) reinvent itself yet again as a low-price boutique. Perhaps the best thing that could happen to A&P would be to join with Tesco and turn all of its stores into convenience-oriented markets that stress prepared and easy-to-prepare foods.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 5 months ago

“A&P will sell if the price is right” is saying very little. Who won’t sell if the price is right? A&P’s survival is a probably a tribute to its leases and lack of first-class supermarket competition. Its achievement track record is very poor. Its New York City area marketplace is among the richest in the country. Its headquarters is in one of the richest counties in the New York City area. Of course it costs more to operate in the New York City area. But the opportunity is unique. What has A&P achieved compared to that opportunity?

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
14 years 5 months ago

A&P, with its continuing efforts to swim to success’s shore, and its whiffling suggestion that it would “sell at the right price,” are strong indications of ultimate futility.

Thus the great can also fall. A&P once dominated the American grocery scene for decades. Now the once proud Old Lady of the Graybar Building in NYC appears to be putting on her last cosmetics in Montvale, N.J. Her many facelifts haven’t made her desirable.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 5 months ago
A&P has tried so many strategies in the past but, in every single case, in our view, there have been two problems: the information the strategies were based on was unwittingly diluted and distorted, and the strategy was not really implemented as it had been envisioned because of deep organization blocks. These two were caused by A&P’s Master System, which is one of most defensive and restrictive we have measured in the grocery industry. I am with you, Herb — A&P still has a chance to pull out of this seemingly hopeless situation, but to do so would require that A&P change some core elements of its identity and culture and systems. A&P has looked at this issue a number of times over the last ten years, but those who have been guiding them in this inquiry were not terribly qualified, and, to their credit, their role was very tightly controlled by the A&P management and board. This is a shame, because it has led A&P to the place they are now. If I were… Read more »
Chris Sorenson
Guest
Chris Sorenson
14 years 5 months ago
It’s unfortunate that a super power in the Northeast is about to bite the dust. As others have said, A&P has been selling off stores, changing store formats from that of an upscale service oriented structure to that of a price-driven one for a long time now and these efforts have not given them the turn-around they were looking for. They even sold off their rights to their extremely successful 8 o’clock coffee brand. I have history with A&P, as my father was an executive there when the Tengelmann group came over from Europe and tried, but with no success, to implement certain industry practices that were just not embraced here in the states. To me this is the classic case of not being able to see the trees from the forest. Clearly A&P has lost their focus on how to be a service oriented retailer. As someone else had commented, A&P needs to be able to listen to the harsh reality of where they stand in the industry, as difficult as it’s going to… Read more »
Justin Time
Guest
14 years 5 months ago
What has been ignored in this discussion is the fact that A&P has sharpened their image with a 3 prong approach: “fresh”, EDLP/discount and gourmet. This has been working. Flush with cash, A&P is remodeling stores at a faster pace and, in the markets where it competes, is doing the right thing. The company will be celebrating its 150th birthday in 2009. No one has competed in the grocery business for this long. So they have been a survivor and an innovator. They have listened to their customers with self checkers, quality house brands and competitive pricing. In the mean time, one competitor, Safeway, continues to shy away from installing self checkers. Instead of face lifts, as one commenter mentioned, I see A&P keeping up with the times. Their formats have always been evolving. Change is good. The chain has been a survivor and will acquire in the coming months. Meanwhile, it has plenty on its plate, with store openings, remodels and executions. Just like taking a bite of their Spanish Bar cake, the goodness… Read more »
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